Some of the advantages that online courses offer over conventional courses:
- All the comforts of an online\distance learning course for free.
- Vibrant discussion forums that help erase doubts.
- High quality material: These courses are taught as-is in the real classes in top universities.
- Hands-on learning: The learner gets to create programs and solve practical problems related with the topic.
- Stay focused on a specific topic - working as a professional developer, it is natural to get stuck with the mundane aspects of programming and forget the big picture as there is the excitement into hacking into different topics without much time constraints, like in college.
My first course is a 10 week course about Big Data, which I had an inking that it would be related with hadoop and other high level aspects of it, but what surprised me was that the first three weeks of this course have passed and the instructor is tirelessly helping us understand the basics/theory of the importance of big data and its key challenges. This being an IIT post graduate level course, further lends credibility to its undivided concentration over the background aspects of big data (and intelligently breaking it down to look, listen, learn, connect, predict, correct).
Another course that has just started is Programming in Scala by none other than its inventor itself, Martin Odensky. What is pleasant about the course is that right from day one, the course uses test driven development and sbt for building & submitting programming excercises.
I also have high hopes for the upcoming SAAS course offered by MIT that seems promising and offers me to create a cloud based solution after a long time.
These myriad courses do take up time, especially the after work hours, but is a better use to put my time rather than just browsing around. So, lot of efforts and headaches are induced into this process, but is worth a try - whether you are a student, a developer or a curious bystander who happens to have some of these type of subjects affecting them in one way or another.